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Welcome to social media, where everyone is a lifestyle guru or expert, and anybody at any given time can start schilling a product, multilevel marketing “opportunities,” and claim credibility for incredible claims and wild guesses. Fake news abounds in Instagram grids, as plentiful as fake lips, fake hair … but most dangerously, fake health and fitness “advice.” Folks pushing toxic positivity, unforgiving and judgmental memes, content that pushes diet culture and fat-phobia/shaming. Skinny-fat and super-fit fitspo influencers are promoting their personal workout and diet routines, capitalizing on natural slenderness without the backup of formal training on human physiology or kinesiology.
In other words, there’s a whole lot of noise, distraction, and funhouse games going on on Instagram, when all you’re trying to do is get a little guidance on how to improve your health and fitness.
The good news is we created a starter-pack list of powerful and most importantly, empowering women to keep an eye on. Boss babes who know what they’re doing and have the credentials to back it up. Here are some fantastic females to follow who can help get you down the right path.
Sophia Rose: @sophiarose92
I’m not going to lie – she’s my go-to when I’m too tired to design my own HIIT (that’s high intensity interval training) sequences but want to light things up. This former professional classical dancer’s account doesn’t waste your time with a surplus of vainglorious selfies or too many twee “life” posts. She gets right down to business with fire complex movement combos done with little to no equipment that promise to ignite your muscles in challenging, creative ways. The fact that they’re displayed in galleries instead of single videos is a major plus, so you can pick, choose, and freeze on a slide to get her impeccable technique down. They’re beautifully and glamorously shot, too, which makes them easier to watch and follow.
Meghan Callaway: @meghancallaway
Recommended by my own highly trained functional fitness trainer, Tristan Phillips, this account by the creator of “The Ultimate Pull-Up Program” isn’t sexy, it isn’t flashy, and it’s certainly not glamorous. But that’s the beauty of it. She gives you straightforward, technically precise exercises to follow in bite-size posts that are clearly labeled and easy to understand. Her captions are clear and detailed, and provide as many cues as a personal trainer or physical therapist would.
Molly Galbraith: @thegirlsgonestrong
She has her own personal account, too, but this educational one is a tremendous resource for those looking to improve their fitness, particularly during pregnancy. Recent posts have served as easily digestible guides on how to get back into it postpartum, real-deal looks at challenges this special demographic faces when trying to get back into routine, and how to strengthen those critical parts — like the pelvic floor — you need to grow a life. Interspersed with gestational info geared at helping trainers train better are quick-tip-type posts on common universal topics, like technique refinement, plateaus, and roadblocks LGBTQ and women face in the gym.
Lauren Pak: @jasonandlaurenpak
Okay, maybe this is cheating a little since it’s a husband-and-wife fitness team … but it’s a husband-and-wife fitness team, and how adorable is that? This mixed-race couple takes turns in this account’s posts demonstrating the difference between many exercise techniques, addressing form and discrepancies, and providing step-by-step instructions on how to master kettlebell, lifting, body weight, and other functional fitness exercises correctly and carefully. And as Lauren has recently given birth, pregnant ladies get bonus content from her recent workouts … plus inspiration for how much you really can do it safely, antiquated perceptions be damned.
Kerri Verna: beachyogagirl
Not exactly below the radar with a million followers, but this simply presented, no-frills account is really handy for those looking to master those challenging yoga poses but too shy to ask for pointers and tips in class … or unable to, since you’re still taking classes virtually. These little explainers might be just the thing to help you feel confident for the next time you’re in the studio, knowing that now that you’ve seen the fundamentals broken down (and maybe tried them in your living room), that you’ve got this.
Food Science Babe: @foodsciencebabe
Fighting fearmongering (a not-so-subtle side-eye to Food Babe, as you’d rightly assume from her handle) with facts, this chemical engineer and professional food scientist breaks down, disproves, and debunks many of the myths in the health and food industry in an easy-to-understand, evidence-based way. She addresses tough topics in brief IGTV videos, often with side-by-side citations and always with explanatory captions. If it’s a hot topic, trend, or “healthy food” fad, she’s on top of it with her matter-of-fact, dryly skeptical, and dispassionate delivery. She also conducts fun food science experiments, too, for those less serious moments, answering once and for all important questions like “What milk is best to maintain Oreo integrity?”
Nicole Ramirez: @believeinhealth
A dietitian serving at both a dialysis clinic and eating disorder facility as well as an independent practitioner, it’d be an understatement to say this RD knows what she’s about. Her account’s primary focus is to help people find “food freedom,” which means getting away from obsessive diet-related behavior and guilt-based thinking. A special emphasis on bingeing is particularly helpful for many, especially as she focuses on balancing the mindset that propels that kind of destructive behavior. Her account does a lot of work on changing how people approach food and guiding them back to a healthier relationship around it, and her common-sense delivery is just the right dose of reality we all need sometimes.
Stefanie Michele: @iamstefaniemichele
For anyone who feels like they’re alone in their struggle against binge-eating and diet culture, this certified health coach and occupational therapist makes sure you know that even the most together-seeming people are just as susceptible to falling victim to it. She’s open about her own binge-eating struggle and draws from that experience to help people make their way to intuitive eating models. She also talks about the mental toll it takes and how to work on shifting your thought process to a place that’s fairer and more forgiving to you. Equally important, she addresses common ways people talk about it to those struggling with fitness and eating, and often shows different ways to frame a “compliment.”
Marissa Kai Miluk: @binge.nutritionist
Getting her followers to a place where intuitive eating is … well, intuitive is the main goal of her account. But as her handle makes clear, first, this MS needs to help her followers tackle the demon of binge-eating, which she does through memes, relatable Reels, and a podcast called behind.the.binge. Her posts are simple and direct; she unabashedly comes after diet culture and calls out the harm it has normalized, shining a big, bright light on things we accept from it and showing us how to stop. We don’t love that every post ends with a plug for her program, but the information preceding that footer is invaluable.
Cory Ruth: @thewomensdietitian
Many of the above tackle binge-eating, but this registered dietitian gears her nutritional advice toward hormone balance, infertility, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — decidedly female issues, hence her handle. She offers tips, tricks, and hacks specifically geared toward those whose hormones, blood sugar, and general reproductive system condition are serving as barriers to their wellness first and weight somewhere lower on the list, and she doesn’t shy away from topics like yeast infection prevention, pooping (or lack thereof), postpartum challenges, and how to be a feminist.
Victoria Myers: @nourishingmindsnutrition
This account is manned by a team of “non-diet” registered dietitians, and together, they produce beautifully illustrated lesser-known facts, easy-to-read and understand memes, and advice on how to learn to love your body while taking best care of it. Her approach is more on intuitive eating and body acceptance, but she does touch on topics around IBS and digestion, orthorexia, and how to break the cycle of negative thinking for the next generation of women. Super-shareable and broken down to simple concepts, these bite-size nuggets of wisdom are great reminders that you’re not alone.
Sohee Lee: @soheefit
Fitness coach, certified strength and conditioning specialist (which requires a scientific approach to athletic training), Ph.D. candidate, and a self-professed nerd about it all, this pint-size powerhouse fearlessly puts her hard-earned knowledge to work on the hottest topics in health and wellness, both physical and mental. Her posts, videos, galleries, and Reels include tips on lifting form, functional movement, and diet and nutrition … all while blasting diet culture and its many misperceptions in body-neutral but snarky, fact-based ways. Additionally, she’s a great example of why women don’t realistically have to worry too much about “getting too bulky,” shouldn’t let themselves get bullied out of the weight room at the gym, and how lifting is great for the female form and mindset.
Anna Sweeney: @dietitiananna
She may be, in her words, a “disabled dietitian,” but this certified eating disorder RD’s account is much more about ability and capability. Her posts are emotional, authentic, and real as she coaches followers through accepting their bodies, recognizing and acknowledging the steps of the difficult journey that eating disorders direct, and gentle reminders that we’re all doing the best we can, and that’s okay. However, she doesn’t shy away from hard truths, like navigating the world as a disabled woman and its emotional toll, chronic illness, and more, providing a perspective that goes beyond her decorated experience as a professional counselor against disordered eating.
Won Dolegowski: @won.d_fit
Prefer a more direct, go-get-’em, light-’em-up approach to your daily affirmations? This account does just that, dropping truth bombs unabashedly in every post. There’s no hiding or sugarcoating — she makes you feel seen and sometimes exposed, but never in an accusatory fashion. More like a “You’ve got this” and “Don’t let them keep you down” kind of way. She’s anti-diet, anti-restriction, pro-lifting, pro-rest and recovery, and pro-you in her posts, and sometimes, her kind of football/locker room coaching style is just what you need to remind you that an informed you is the best asset you can have.
Cynthia Leu: @cynthialeu
As an American veteran, powerlifter, and mental health advocate, Cynthia is a multihyphenate inspiration already, even without adding on that she’s a tech baddie and fashion entrepreneur, too. Her honest, vulnerable, and hilarious account tackles topics like her eating disorder recovery journey, flex/relaxed realities in fitspo, body confidence, bulking fears, and setting boundaries — all unapologetically and sassily. She radiates joy and self-acceptance, but gets powerfully real about what it took for her to get there. And an added bonus: Her Pomeranian mix @weinerfox makes plenty of guest appearances on her account, too, and he’s probably the cutest workout.